Consumer Reports: Non-dairy milk sales up, but are they healthier?

New health guidelines say most young children should avoid plant-based milk.
New health guidelines say most young children should avoid plant-based milk. (Copyright 2019 CNN)

Mooove over, milk! Sales of non-dairy milk -- almond, soy, coconut, even milk made from oats -- are up 61% in the past few years. 

And the trend reaches beyond the lactose-intolerant and vegan crowd.

In fact, more than half of plant-milk buyers in a Consumer Reports survey said they think it's healthier than cow's milk.

Is it?

Well, CR says don't be so fast to dis on cows's milk. 

Cow's milk is rich in protein and supplies much of the calcium in most people's diets, but when you replace it with plant milk, you may actually be missing out. 

Are you ready to replace milk from a cow with milk from a plant? Consider starting with soy, which is closest to cow's milk nutritionally.

Soy milk has about the same amount of protein, or more. And if it is fortified it can have similar vitamin and mineral content. But watch out for added sugars,    

Almond milk is the most popular plant milk. The top-rated had slight to moderate almond flavor and little to no astringency or chalkiness -- but CR said it has low protein content and poor protein quality. 

The top oat milk has a slightly sweet oat-y taste. It has slightly less protein than soy or cow's milk. It does have some fiber, but not enough to contribute much to your daily requirement. 

Coconut milk generally has mild coconut flavor. It has little to no protein and is high in saturated fat.

CR suggests taking a close look at the labels. A lot of plant milks contain added sugar and stabilizers so opt for one with the best nutritional profile and the fewest additives. 

Consumer Reports says if you do opt to moooove on from cow's milk, buying organic will reduce the environmental impact that results from pesticide use.